New GMO study with pigs is “hogwash”

A study published last week that aimed to expose the dangers of livestock eating genetically modified grain has failed to gain support from critics. Although the study claimed to be peer-reviewed, Mark Lynas, a British author, journalist and former anti-GM activist, exposed the many fallacies and errors in the study.

The new study focused on feeding pigs a diet of genetically modified grain. According to the study, these pigs had markedly higher stomach inflammation than pigs fed conventional grains. The study was conducted by Judy Carman and colleagues and published in a minor Australian journal called “Journal of Organic Systems.” Sponsors of the journal include the Organic Federation of Australia.
Lynas points out that Carman is an anti-biotech campaigner and even has a website called GMOJudyCarman, which is supported by Gilles-Eric Séralini, the French scientist that published a study in the fall that was heavily criticized by the scientific community for the conclusion that GMO corn caused high levels of death in rats. 
Lynas is also skeptical about the other co-author of the study, Howard Vlieger. On his blog, Lynas says, he “seems to have made some wild allegations about GMOs in the past” if his source is to be believed. Vlieger is president and co-founder of Verity Farms, a U.S. ‘natural foods’ outfit, which markets non-GMO grain. Despite this, the paper declares that the authors have no conflicts of interest, although it seems to me that he would have a very clear commercial interest in scaring people about GMOs in order to drum up business of his GMO-free offerings.”
He also points out that the funding for the study came from Verity Farms and the Institute of Health and Environmental Research, an Australian not-for-profit, which seems to be dedicated to anti-GMO activism, according to Lynas.
Problems with the study include what the authors choose to say about the results and what the results actually show.
As with the Seralini study that showed pictures of rats with grotesque tumors, the Carman study shows photos of inflamed pigs stomachs. Photos of non-GM pigs stomachs were not shown when 38 of the non-GM pigs, more than half of the total of 73, were suffering moderate or severe inflammation. Lynas asks why those photos are not shown.
Lynas’ conclusion is that “this study subjected animals to inhumanely poor conditions resulting in health impacts which can then be data-mined to present ‘evidence’ against GMO feeds. Most damning of all, close to 60% of both sets of pigs were suffering from pneumonia at the time of slaughter—another classic indicator of bad husbandry. Had they not been slaughtered, all these pigs might well have died quickly anyway. No conclusions can be drawn from this study, except for one—that there should be tighter controls on experiments performed on animals by anti-biotech campaigners, for the sake of animal welfare.”
To read Lynas’ blog, click here.


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